We got Mila's passport with her visa in it and the Very Important Brown Envelope from the consulate that is sealed and stamped and written in multiple languages "do not open!" Our GZ driver loaded us up and took us to the border of China and Hong Kong (I don't know the political details of China and HK... But you have to cross the border, do a customs check, they have their own passports and currency that is different from China... I really should read a Wikipedia or something on that but honestly it's a little low on the list of priorities....) and then we switched vans to drive into HK. We got in a nice van with a guy who didn't say a word but just drove us off... I kind of wondered in the back of my mind if we had just willingly been abducted but then... Why?
Anyway, we crossed into Hong Kong and were dropped off at our hotel. The driver popped the trunk and we scrambled out and before I could dig out some HK dollars for a tip he gruffly said goodbye and drove off. We must have paid him well...
We took a hotel shuttle to a nearby shopping mall and metro station. It was incredibly foggy out which was a bummer because we were contemplating doing a little sightseeing but instead opted for wandering the mall... Which was filled with designer outlet stores and served as a kind of culture shock. We grabbed dinner and went back to the hotel for sleep.
The next morning we were up early for the 7 am shuttle to the airport. We went to check in and found out our flight was delayed. And thus began a very long day of travel. We wandered the HK airport a bit, got something to eat, face timed the boys one last time ("mom- is Mila still there? Can we talk to her?") and then boarded.
We flew about 4 hours to Japan and the had to circle the Tokyo airport due to extreme crosswinds. When our pilot finally went for it, our Leland rocked and bounced more than any aircraft should and lets just say items may have shifted in the overhead compartments.
With shaky knees, we deplaned to discover all of the airport at a standstill due to the winds. Another delayed flight. When we finally boarded we were informed we would be missing our final flight home from lax to San Diego.
Thankfully it's faster to get from Asia to the U.S. than the other direction... And even more thankfully Mila slept almost the entire flight! We landed and trudged through customs..and Mila officially became a U.S. Citizen! (We handed over our precious brown envelope to the immigration officer who tore into it without a second thought. Austin and I both gasped and the officer told us it was his job to open the envelope... We know... We've just been protecting that thing with our lives for the past 24 hours...)
We collected our luggage and found out we had been rebooked on a flight home in... 7 hours! No way Jose- we would take a bus, a train, or beg for rescue from someone before we spent 7 hours in an airport 2 hours away from home and our boys.
And that's when our amazing people starting putting a plan into action. I don't even know the details but it involved Austin's parents rushing to our rescue after getting a car seat from our friends (and making a detour for a diaper) and others communicating to our would-be welcome party that plans had changed.
We made it home around 5 pm and Corbin and Leo were waiting for us with welcome home signs. It was wonderful to be together -even though Mila was pretty shell shocked at that point! But she was intrigued by her brothers and they were over the moon for her.
Oh- and our home- filled with food, fruit baskets, cards, toys for the kids, a baby grand piano. We were shocked! Have I mentioned how much we love all of you guys? I'm pretty sure our fridge and pantry have never been that full!
We all managed to sleep fairly well- even Mila despite sleeping practically the entire day before. The next morning we enjoyed pancakes with all of our kids (Mila stuck to her liquid only diet) and started the process of getting to know each other. It was amazing to see how quickly the kids started playing- smiling, laughing, exploring the house and toys together- they bonded quickly. And it's really helped Mila see how the boys interact with Austin and I. Corbin and Mila seem to have hit it off right away- Corbin has prayed for her and waited for her for a long time and I think he's just enthralled at her tiny self. And she thinks he's pretty great.
Today was supposed to be our 'normal day' test run. Austin got up and took Corbin to preschool while I stayed with the little kids. He called to check in and decided to go to work for a few hours. I got the kids fed and dressed and we played together for awhile. Leo and Mila together are interesting. Even though Leo towers over her, he interacts with her as a typical two year old- he kind of rough plays, follows her around and tries to hold her ears, and says "it's o-Tay Mila, it's o-Tay". And he gets mad when she takes his toys. She doesn't really know what to make of him- she swats him away or kind of whines when he starts to bug her.
But today she arched Leo run across the kitchen and jump into my lap over and lover again. She acted a little jealous and climbed into my lap - and then Leo jumped on top of both of us! Mila squealed in delight and soon they were taking turns running through the kitchen and jumping on me. After that, they pretty much meandered from room to room causing trouble together,occasionally tussling over toys but for the most part getting along.
Austin made an unexpected trip home due to not feeling well so I picked up Corbin and made a quick target run for a few things. And I didn't remember that everyone is Christmas shopping until I attempted to find a parking spot! Our quick trip took a little longer than anticipated and when we got home, austin had put both kids down for a nap.
After naps, austin declared that we needed a Christmas tree so we headed to Home Depot with all the kids. Mila did great in the car seat- entertained by her brothers no doubt- and the boys were so excited to pick out a tree. We let them run wild but Mila only wanted to hold my hand or be carried by me! I was happy to oblige! We got the tree home and the rest of the evening was spent managing chaos as we got ornaments down from the attic, made dinner, decorated the tree, vacuumed all the needles, redecorated the tree after Mila and Leo took all the ornaments off, vacuumed again, and finally got kids in bed. We put them in matching Christmas jammies and read the Christmas story together as a family. It's good to be home!